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of the body of presbyters, one should be chosen, and elevated above the rest. And this change is said by him to have taken place gradually. The whole of the statement is consistent with the Episcopal scheme. If a certain disorder existed, and a certain remedy was applied to it; the obvious supposition is, that the one followed at no great distance from the other. And then its being said by Jerome to have been by degrees, answers exactly to the accounts handed down of the increase of local bishops, in proportion as apostolick superintendence decreased by death. All this brings Jerome's sayings strictly within the bounds of the system contended for. And yet it may be remarked, in regard to this very learned but very cholerick father, that aiming in one of his arguments to humble the arrogancy of certain deacons, and in another, to moderate the claims of bishops-for both of which he seems to have had sufficient cause; if he had carried the matter further than strict propriety warranted, it would not have been the only instance, in which his zeal hurried him into the extreme of rashness.
In the discussion of the subject, the author has confined himself to the single point of establishing two distinct orders of the ministry; resolved into one order, by many bodies of professing Christians. To have extended the inquiry to the ascertaining of the rights exclusively attached to the grade of the Episcopacy, would have rendered the discussion too extensive. All who affirm that order to have been from the beginning, consider as attached to it alone, the authority to confer the ministerial character of any grade. As to the exercise of jurisdiction; the author of the present work, deriving his principles from the Church of En. gland, considers it as a subject which should be regu. lated by ecclesiastical laws. All reasonable laws to this effect, must be founded on general maxims, essentially belonging to the subject; and yet, in their subordinate provisions, may be accommodated to different times and circumstances.
Equivocal Use of the Word.-Design of perpetuating by
written Records. - Testimony of the Fathers.--Preserva. tion of Scripture.--Traditions, some dropped, and some opposite to others.--Some Things erroneously affirmed to rest on Tradition.
On the question between the Church of Rome and the Protestant Churches, concerning the present subject; the latter might surrender their opi. nion, without giving up a particle on any important point of doctrine. It is conceded on the other side, that to make a tradition binding, it must be unin. terrupted. But Protestants deny, that during the first three centuries to say the least—there were any traditions in favour of transubstantiation, the worship of images, auricular confession, purgatory, and other matters which might be named. Yet the integrity of Christian truth calls for opposition to the dangerous doctrine, that tradition goes along with scripture, in making up the rule of faith.
In the lecture, this subject was considered only as it relates to rites and ceremonies. But the same test having been applied to doctrine; and it being contended, that the rule of faith is not scripture alone, but this and the other taken together; it falls in with the design of these Dissertations, to investigate the proposition.
One great source of controversy, is the equivocal use of words. This is confessed on all hands, and is especially conspicuous on the present subject. The word translated “ Tradition,'t is used in the New Testament to express, as well what was set down in writing, as what had been delivered ver. bally. When St. Paul, in his journey through seve. ral cities, “ delivered to them the decrees for to keep”*meaning those just before established by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem—the verb translated “ delivered,” has a common origin with the substantive “tradition;" and might have been translated “tradited,” if the use of the English language had allowed. So when the same apostle says -" I received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you”t-meaning the account of the in. stitution of the Eucharist; the subject of tradition and that of scripture, are the same. The remark applies also to what is said in the next chapter but one-“I delivered” (or tradited) “unto you first of all, that which I also received:"| After which fol. lows a plain account of the death and the resurrection of Christ-being no other than what is given at large in the gospel. When it is said — Withdraw yourselves from every brother which walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us;'s the tradition referred to, was a cau. tion against—"not working, and being busy. bodies;" as the sequel shows: so that no more was designed, than to remind them of a point of Christian morals, of which the writer of the epistle had discoursed among them in person. In the chapter immediately preceding, he had included both scripture and oral instruction under the article of tradition-"Hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or by our epistle.” From this statement, there may be drawn the following inferences. First, the lax sense of the term in
* See Lecture VIII.
1 Παραδοσις. .
question, ought to forbid the considering of it as necessarily expressing what is called tradition, put in an intended contrast with scripture. Secondly, however an apostle might fitly take occasion in writing
Acts, xvi. 4. † 1 Cor. xi. 23. verse 3. § 2 Thess. iii. 6.
to any Church, to refresh the memories of his former hearers, and again to charge their consciences by bringing before them what they had formerly heard from his lips; yet it does not follow, that he considered oral instruction as a likely medium of handing down what had been thusdelivered, through all the centuries which were to succeed; and especially, when what was so delivered had relation to deep questions in theology,
In religion as well as in philosophy, there would seem to apply the maxim, that the divine economy does not needlessly multiply the means of effecting its designs. That all needful truth was published to the world by Jesus Christ and his apostles, is consented to on both sides. The question is confined to the means of transmitting it. That the written gospel was a mean adopted, appears from several places: as where St. Luke tells Theophilus, and doubtless in him every person to whom the work of that evangelist should come, of its being designed—“ That thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed."* St. John also thus tells us the end of the writing of his gospel" That ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through his name.”+ St. Peter, baving received a divine intimation that he was soon to “put off his tabernacle,”# informs those to whom he writes-“I will endeavour that ye may be able, after my decease, to have these things always in your remembrance.”St. Paul is supposed to refer to the Old Testament only, when he tells Timothy, that the Scriptures are “able to make him wise unto salvation;"| because he is said to have known them from his childhood: a circumstance, not applying to those of the New Testament. Still, the documents spoken of accomplished their effect“through faith:” that is, in the gospel. Accordingly, when the same faith became deposited in other inspired books; the two volumes are to be considered as abundantly sufficient testimony of the facts and of the doctrines, which they respectively record. The scripture spoken of by the apostle was sufficient, in connexion with the truths which were the object of Christian faith, to “make the man of God perfect.”* If the competency to perfection be supposed impaired, when those truths, from being vocally delivered, have been set down in writing; it is difficult to perceive, how this medium of communication can have been an adequate depositary of the revelations under the law and the prophets: which yet must be taken into the account, in order to demonstrate the divine origin of the truths peculiar to the gospel.
* Luke, i. 4. xx. 31. 2 i. 14. Verse 15. 12 iij. 15.
In order to give countenance to the opinion of tradition under the gospel; it has been appealed to as the only mode of transmission of religious truth, before the delivery of the law. There needs not to be more decisive proof of its inadequacy to that object. Doubtless, the knowledge of the one only true God, was handed down by Noah and his immediate descendants: but that they had degenerated from it in the time of Abraham, is evident from the alternative proposed by Joshua to the Israelites -"Chuse you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served, that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”+ Whatever may have been the measure of the preservation of the same knowledge in the patriarchal family for awhile; it is evident, that before the coming out of Egypt, there must have been a considerable decline: for otherwise, the Israelites would not so easily have been seduced to the worship of the golden calf; exclaiming before it—"These be thy